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HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 15 March 2021

Media Summary

UK vaccine rollout scaled up amid supply concerns
Financial Times, Sebastian Payne, Sarah Neville & John Burn-Murdoch, 15 March

The Financial Times reports that the UK will scale up its Coronavirus vaccination programme this week despite continued concerns inside Government about supply issues. Ministers are preparing for a significant increase in vaccination rates over the next three weeks, before a drop-off in April.
On Sunday the Government reported that it had administered 512,108 first dose vaccinations on Saturday – the highest daily tally since February 12. Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said “March will be a very big month for us” and predicted jabs would be delivered at “twice the rate over the next 10 weeks as we have done over the past 10 or 11 weeks.”

However, individuals with knowledge of the programme said that the UK was still encountering “major production challenges” with vaccines from AstraZeneca and Moderna, with only Pfizer on track to meet its schedule after upgrading its main production facility in Belgium. Because of these issues, vaccination levels are expected to dip again in April. Second doses are also expected to become a priority next month, as the NHS is operating on a basis of delivering second jabs 11 weeks after the first.

Amazon’s next high street target: your local chemist
The Times, Sabah Meddings, 14 March

The Times reports that Amazon has signalled plans to break into the pharmacy industry in the UK, having registered the trademark “Amazon Pharmacy” with the Intellectual Property Office.

In America, Amazon’s existing online pharmacy delivery service offers prescription medicines at a discount. Amazon is a direct challenger to the main US players — Walgreens, the owner of Boots, and CVS Health. It offers discounts of up to 80 per cent on generic drugs and 40 per cent on branded medicines. When it announced plans to venture further into pharmacy in November, Walgreens’ shares fell by more than 11 per cent.

It is not known how the model would work in the UK, where the price of prescriptions is regulated. This means Amazon would not be able to compete on price – its advantage would be convenience and speed. Online pharmacy services are already growing in the UK. Pharmacy2U, which uses a subscription model, has about 550,000 customers and posted sales of £78.3 million in the year to the end of last March.

Leyla Hannbeck, Chief Executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said that online dispensaries could not offer the service that community chemists provided. “When someone is diagnosed with a long-term condition such as asthma or diabetes, and is put on new medicines for the first time, the pharmacist can talk to the patient and ensure they are taking them correctly,” she said.

 

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

Full Coverage

UK vaccine rollout scaled up amid supply concerns
Financial Times, Sebastian Payne, Sarah Neville & John Burn-Murdoch, 15 March

This article is subject to copyright terms and conditions. You can access the article here.

Amazon’s next high street target: your local chemist
The Times, Sabah Meddings, 14 March

Amazon has signalled plans to break into the pharmacy industry in the UK, having disrupted the $300 billion (£215 billion) prescription drugs market in America.

The tech giant has registered the trademark “Amazon Pharmacy” with the Intellectual Property Office.

In America, Amazon’s online delivery service offers prescription medicines at a discount. It is not known how the model would work in the UK, where the price of prescriptions is regulated.

The prospect of Amazon moving into the sector met with dismay from high street chemists this weekend. In America, Amazon is a direct challenger to the main players — Walgreens, the owner of Boots, and CVS Health. It offers discounts of up to 80 per cent on generic drugs and 40 per cent on branded medicines. When it announced plans to venture further into pharmacy in November, Walgreens’ shares fell by more than 11 per cent.

Leyla Hannbeck, Chief Executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said that online dispensaries could not offer the service that community chemists provided. “When someone is diagnosed with a long-term condition such as asthma or diabetes, and is put on new medicines for the first time, the pharmacist can talk to the patient and ensure they are taking them correctly,” she said.

Online pharmacy services are already growing in the UK. Pharmacy2U, which uses a subscription model, has about 550,000 customers and posted sales of £78.3 million in the year to the end of last March.

Amazon has soared during the pandemic. It reported sales of $125.7 billion for the last three months of 2020, an increase of 44 per cent.

Unlike in America, UK drug prices are regulated, which means Amazon would not be able to compete on price. Its advantage would be convenience and speed. Amazon Prime members in America receive unlimited two-day delivery on pharmacy orders.

Amazon declined to comment.

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 15 March 2021

From Factory to Pharmacy

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